Achang people

The Achang (Chinese: 阿昌族; pinyin: Āchāngzú), also known as the Ngac'ang (their own name) or Maingtha (Burmese: မိုင်းသာလူမျိုး) are an ethnic group. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. They also live in Burma.

The Achang number 27,700, of whom 27,600 are from Yunnan province, especially Dehong Autonomous Prefecture. The Achang speak a Burmish (Burmese-related) language called Achang, but there is no indigenous writing system to accompany it. Chinese characters are often used instead. Many Achang also speak the Tai Lü language, mainly to make commercial transactions with Dai people.[1]

Speaking a distinct dialect, the Husa Achang (戶撒) living in Longchuan County (also in Dehong) consider themselves to be distinct and filed an unsuccessful application in the 1950s as a separate nationality. The Husa were more Sinicized than other Achang. For example, Confucian-styled ancestral memorial tablets are common in Husa homes. Most traditional Husa believe in a mixture of Theravada Buddhism and Taoism.

Achang
Achang woman brocade dress - Yunnan Nationalities Museum - DSC04291
Achang woman's dress
Total population
~29,000
Regions with significant populations
People's Republic of China, mostly concentrated in Yunnan province, smaller population in Burma
Languages
Achang, Xiandao (SIL, khan31tao31)
Religion
Theravada Buddhism, Taoism, and a mixture of animism and ancestor worship.

History

The ancestors of the Achang were some of the first inhabitants of the province of Yunnan. Their ancestors lived near the Lancang river and during the 12th century they began to emigrate towards the border the west of the river. By the 13th century, some of them settled down in the area of Longchuan, whereas others settled around Lianghe. During the Ming and Qing dynasties they were governed by local village heads.

Culture

A great part of the history and traditions of the Achang has been transmitted from generation to generation through music and songs. Music is one of the mainstays of their culture, and they usually finish all celebrations with songs and dances. Unmarried young people usually comb their hair with two braids that gather on their head. The typical clothes of the Achang vary according to village. Married women dress in long skirts, whereas unmarried women wear trousers. The men usually use the colors blue, or black to make their shirts, buttoned to a side. Unmarried men surround their head with a fabric of white color, whereas married men wear blue. In Buddhist funerals of the Achang, a long fabric tape of about 20 meters is tied to the coffin. During the ceremony, the monk in charge of the ritual, walks in front as opposed to holding the tape. By doing this, the monk helps directs the soul of the deceased so that the soul of the deceased arrives at its final destiny. The deceased is buried without any metallic elements, not even jewels, since it is believed that those elements contaminate the soul for future reincarnation.

References

  1. ^ "Achang Ethnic Minority". China Culture. P.R. China: Ministry of Culture. 2003. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03.

External links

Bamar people

The Bamar (Burmese: ဗမာလူမျိုး; MLCTS: ba. ma lu myui:; IPA: [bəmà lùmjó]; also historically the Burmese and Burmans) are the dominant ethnic group in Myanmar. Bamar people live primarily in the Irrawaddy River basin and speak the Burmese language, which is the official language of Myanmar. Bamar customs and identity are closely intertwined with the broader Burmese culture. The Bamar people are often imprecisely called "Burmese", though this term in contemporary usage can refer to any citizen of Myanmar, regardless of ethnicity.

Husa knife

A Husa knife, also sometimes called Achang knife, is traditional forged weapon of the Achang people of China. The Achang live mainly in the village of "Husa", and smaller villages nearby, in Longchuan County, Dehong Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, near the border between China and Burma.Husa is well known for its knife and sword makers, who have sold their products to Burma and regions along Nu River since ancient times. The Achang craftsmen make a variety of types of blades.Husa knives are made with a special process which gives the metal a pure texture, and a really sharp and durable blade. The handles and sheaths are also inscribed with various traditional patterns, such as "flying dragon and phoenix", "tiger roaring", "eastern sunrise", making each knife a work of art.Each Achang family keeps at least one knife of high quality. When the young Achang men get married, they carry back knives to show their heroic vitality. This ethnic custom has continued to the present time.

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